Jack Neville to steer the ship as Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones rings changes for Chile clash
The fly half makes his first start after coming off the bench in his side’s loss to Russia on Friday
Leigh Jones has made 13 changes to his starting 15 for Tuesday’s match against Chile in the Cup of Nations and is eager to see 25-year-old fly half Jack Neville in action from the get-go.
Neville debuted off the bench in Hong Kong’s 16-13 loss to Russia in the opening round of the tournament on Friday and was impressive in the recent Asia Rugby Sevens Series.
“Jack is a proven commodity as a 10 so it will be nice to have a look at him,” Jones said. “The selection is about having a look at different permutations, different selections with that larger picture in mind.”
While Jones says the raft of changes are more to do with building depth and creating competition for spots than Hong Kong’s first-up loss, he still expects his side to get the job done.
“I expected to beat Russia and we came unstuck there and again I am expecting to beat Chile,” he said.
Watch: highlights of the first round of the Cup of Nations
“I said before the competition that we have now got to measure ourselves against this type of competition and back ourselves to win. [But] we have got to keep developing depth.”
Sam Purvis, who made his debut in Kenya in August, starts at inside centre and will team up with Neville in what Jones calls “an interesting combination”.
Scrum half Liam Slatem, outside centre Tyler Spitz and wingers Ally Maclay and Marcus Ramage also feature in a completely new-look backline, with stalwart Jamie Hood moving from scrum half to full back.
Second rower James Cunningham and No 8 Thomas Lamboley retain their places in the forward line, while flanker Kane Boucaut makes his first start after also debuting from the bench on Friday.
Ben Higgins, Ben Roberts and Jack Parfitt make up the front row and Jones will again be asking his scrum to play a key role.
“Chile are a big, heavy team and rely largely on their forwards,” Jones said. “We are going to have to match them in the forwards and match their physical approach, and show a bit of class and play the game at a quicker tempo.
Hong Kong suffer heartbreaking loss to Russia but ‘results don’t matter’ as coach Leigh Jones focuses on progress
“It is not too dissimilar to Russia. If our set piece doesn’t function, they will control possession, they will then control the penalty count and control the territory. If we allow them to do that then that we will have problems again.”
Hong Kong squad:
Ben Higgins, Ben Roberts (c), Jack Parfitt, James Cunningham, Kyle Sullivan, Kane Boucaut, Matt Lamming, Thomas Lamboley, Liam Slatem, Jack Neville, Ally Maclay, Sam Purvis, Tyler Spitz, Marcus Ramage, Jamie Hood, Dayne Jans, Dan Barlow, Adam Fullgrabe, Dylan Rogers, Adrian Griffiths, Michael Coverdale, Cado Lee Ka-to, Matt Rosslee, Conor Hartley.